By Rich Martin
March 6, 2018
Whether you are a technical operations manager, hub supervisor, or seasoned line technician, a call from a colleague or an unknown number during non-working hours is rarely good news.
That call at 1:00 am from someone in the NOC looking for the number to the on-call tech or the text message from a line technician during your Saturday barbecue who is responding to a service outage and needs directions to the node. We’ve all been there. How you respond to these events largely depends on the tools and data you have available to find and repair failures in the network.
Most of us know the difference between a TDR and an OTDR and when to use each. We know not to break out the DSAM for a fiber cut or a spectrum analyzer to measure power supply output. We have these tools and we use them effectively, but what about software and network infrastructure data?
The advantage of having software and network design to find a failure ensures that you have accurate data on your fiber infrastructure, and there are several uses for that beyond the obvious use of restoring service during an outage. For example, you can determine the number of lit fiber miles, you can find the fiber capacity within any given cable to make expansion planning more efficient. You can determine the services allocation for each fiber and where those services are routed. These are but a few.
Having operational data for a fiber optic network should be considered foundational. Imagine a basketball team whose players can’t shoot or a football team whose players haven’t learned to block. These skills are considered foundational and if teams don’t excel at basic skills consistently, they will probably lose more than they will win. The same is true for fiber optic network providers that don’t have accurate data on their fiber infrastructure. Eventually this weakness will be made apparent.
None of us hope for bad things to happen, but when they do, be prepared to minimize the impact to your customers. Millions of dollars are spent to install and maintain these networks and a small fraction of that expense to document them well enough to be able to find a failure should one occur. Now, the next text you receive from a colleague over the weekend will be him asking when you plan to light the grill!
Rich Martin has over 20 years of experience in the telecommunications industry. Rich got an early introduction to electronics and engineering technologies while serving as a Fire Control Technician in the United States Navy during Operation Desert Storm.